Optical Performance: Travel Photography


Canon 16-35mm F4 IS vs Canon 17-40mm F4 Shogun Sharpness Shootout TestPhotojournalists and travel photographers frequently shoot without a tripod. Shortly after getting one of the first copies of the Canon 16-35 F4 IS I took it to the streets of Hong Kong and China.



1/160s – F9 – ISO 160 – 16mm – Canon EOS 6D


The autofocus is fast, silent and very accurate. Sharpness throughout the frame is very sharp, aside from the F9 softening corners.


Canon 16-35mm F4 IS Canon 6D in Hong Kong Street Photography Long Exposure

1/10s – F4 – ISO 400 – 16mm – Canon EOS 6D

Canon 16-35mm F4 IS Review Hong Kong at Night 2

Canon 16-35mm F4 IS Review Hong Kong at Night 1

Canon 16-35mm F4 IS Review Hong Kong at Night 3

With Image Stabilization turned on, I was able to go as low as 1/10th of a second and still get the image critically sharp. The moving bus at 1/10th wouldn’t have been as fluid-moving as if it were captured at 1/30th or faster. As I was already down to F4, the only way to achieve 1/30th or faster in this case would have been to go up to ISO 800 and beyond, likely to 1600. As a result of having IS enabled, I was able to get it down to 1/10th, sharper and the ISO was quite a bit lower.

Great detail on the scaffolding, detail and sharpness around the neon lights is good and well controlled, and the street signs render text very sharp. No flaring from the direct light source in the top-to-mid-left.



1/200 – F10 – ISO 160 – 32mm – Canon EOS 6D



Now granted, this image wasn’t captured on the Sony A7R unfortunately, so we’re unable to really dive into all this amazing detail, however color rendition and center-to-corner sharpness with IS make this image a fun test image, and really showcases how much detail can be captured hand-held with the IS if the shutter speed matches the F-number and focal length appropriately.

Aside from a bit of moire on the second first 100% actual-size photograph on two of the AC units, I’m seeing nothing wrong with this image.


The 16-35 F4’s IS is great, and performs to the same degree as my other IS lenses. It’s very quiet and provides up to 2-3 stops of real-world stabilization. For landscape photography, where I shoot with a tripod 90% of the time, I don’t find it to be very useful in most situations, but that’s because I use a tripod 90% of the time or more. But in the 10% of situations where I don’t have a tripod and I’m presented with a landscape scene, I feel as though it would be downright essential.

Sure, it adds weight to the lens, but the convenience of getting sharper images at lower ISOs, and higher F-numbers as a result, to me, is worth it. Some of my best images have been captured handheld on the 17-40, and resolving critically sharp, too, but they would have been better with IS. Here’s an example, without any photoshop:


Canon 17-40mm F4 Performance Review

1/125th – F8 – ISO 100 – 17mm – 17-40 F4

CANON 17-40mm F4 Review 1CANON 17-40mm F4 Review 1

This is one of my favorite photographs, and although it resolves critically sharp in the center – due to the fact that I was limited to F8 – the corners are inherently less sharp, not due to the corner sharpness of the 17-40 (okay, it would have been a little soft compared to the 16-35 F4, but still very good), but because of the mid-range F-number used for this scene – F8. Image Stabilization would have allowed me to safely move to F14 or F16 at a lower shutter speed but still get everything critically sharp.

If I had shot this with the 16-35 F4, the lower left CA would likely not be present, so again, in situations without a tripod, the Canon 16-35 F4 IS with Image Stabilization can be incredibly useful for capturing images at higher F-numbers, lower ISOs with less CA.


Canon 16-35mm F4 IS Review of Video with and without Image Stabilization

Video shooters are going to love the IS on the 16-35 F4. I had a chance to put it to the test on a ferry boat in Hong Kong – which had all kinds of movement. I shot four videos, two without IS, and two with.

No matter how steady the hand, without IS videos have a fair bit of jitter. IS doesn’t remove it altogether, but it does decrease significantly the amount of swaying and jittering. With Image Stabilization in Final Cut Pro X, shooting with IS and then applying IS in FCPX works wonders. Applying IS to a non-IS video results in the video being cropped quite a bit more, thereby reducing the quality significantly.

So in my non-professional experience shooting video with the Canon 16-35 F4 IS, I found the IS to get most of the way there, with post-processing IS taking it the rest of the way there.

Click here to download the 1.33GB of 1080p video captured on the 6D



Canon 16-35 F4 Review Overview

Optical Performance: Sharpness Shootout Part 1

Optical Performance: Sharpness Shootout Part 2

Optical Performance: Landscape Photography

Optical Performance: Travel Photography

Design & Build Quality






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